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2022-09-12 | Judit Kockat, Sheikh Zuhaib

The EU Buildings Climate Tracker finds that the European Union is facing a growing gap in advancing towards climate neutrality in the sector. This paper is complementary as it gives more details about the methodology and outlines results for all sub-indicators of the Tracker.

A first policy briefing highlighting its overall results as well as concrete policy recommendations for the EPBD revision was published in June 2022. This complimentary paper gives more details about the methodology and outlines results for all sub-indicators of the EU Buildings Climate Tracker: 

  1. CO₂ emissions from energy use in buildings by households and services 
  2. Final energy consumption in households and the service 
  3. Improvement in EPC ratings 
  4. Renewable energy share 
  5. Cumulated investment in renovation in real terms
  6. Annual domestic expenditure per household in real terms 
2022-08-30 | Sheikh Zuhaib

This X-tendo briefing provides recommendations on how to take EPC schemes to the nect level and is targeted at policymakers at EU and Member State level, public authorities and institutions responsible for their design, implementation and management.


The Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, published in 2021, demonstrates that the UK built environment can be net zero carbon by 2050. The modelling found that for this to happen, both embodied and operational carbon must be reduced to almost zero, and that the use of circular economy principles are an important part of the solution. Five such principles and how to apply them were set out by UKGBC in Circular economy guidance for construction clients, published in 2019.

This UKGBC report seeks to increase understanding within the real estate sector of how circular economy principles can support whole life carbon reductions, and where there may be potential trade-offs; and provide greater clarity on how circular economy may be valued in relation to the whole life carbon impacts of buildings by translating these outcomes into financial and other value metrics.


The prevailing narrative influencing policymaking at EU level on energy and climate is that this transition will naturally lead to negative social impacts, which need to be managed and mitigated. However, this can and should be questioned. Is it true that the energy transition and, more specifically, building decarbonisation policies have, by default, negative social impacts? Is it true that the only strategy or solution is to mitigate them?

Alternative narratives, which highlight that there are both negative and positive implications from building decarbonisation measures, should be considered. It should be the goal of good policy design to ensure that positive impacts prevail, and ultimately it is the responsibility of policymakers to achieve this objective. Energy and climate policies, notably in the buildings sector, should aim at maximising positive social impacts and preventing negative ones, then minimising any negative impacts that are unavoidable. This discussion is crucial now, as the EU is reassessing and redesigning the architecture of its energy and climate policy framework, in a context of high energy prices and volatile markets – a context which needs special attention to respond to social impacts.

Download the policy briefing below.


The European Union has set a target to almost totally decarbonise the building sector by 2050, which raises the question of buildings’ energy performance. What is the best way of undertaking the immense energy renovation project needed to reach these objectives? One solution is to employ reliable measurement and guidance tools, such as Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which are part of a common toolkit used by European countries.
The stakes are particularly high given that the EU Taxonomy, whose aim is to establish a common reference system to qualify – including for buildings – sustainable property and real estate projects, is partly based on a rating system centred on EPCs.
This study is part of a three-volume publication on European EPCs. The ESREI intends to publish two detailed comparisons of European EPCs in the sample of countries selected, respectively concerning residential buildings and office buildings.

2022-07-01 | Beverley Cornaby and Sanna Markkanen, with support from Eliot Whittington, Serena Liuni and Isabelle Cross
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

The UK is in the midst of dual crises, with a cost-of-living crisis adding to the climate crisis. Both of these crises disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society, who also have fewest resources to cope with changing circumstances. It is vital we tackle both crises with the urgency they require. Policy measures to address the cost-of-living crisis can be just as, if not more, effective when designed to align with the UK’s net zero target. An aligned approach to addressing the cost-of-living crisis and decarbonisation challenge could create win–wins for the UK economy.

Read the policy briefing here

2022-06-24 | Hélène Sibileau, Judit Kockat, Sheikh Zuhaib & Oliver Rapf

The newly developed EU Buildings Climate Tracker finds that the EU is facing a growing gap in advancing towards climate neutrality in the sector. This first edition provides evidence for the urgent need for additional action that should be reflected in a transformational outcome of legislative discussions on the EPBD.

The results show that the buildings sector is not on track to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. In 2019, the index has a calculated value of 0.48 on a scale between 0 (reference situation in 2015) and 100 (climate neutrality in 2050), while it should be at 14 points. The Tracker also indicates that building decarbonisation is far from progressing at the speed needed. The achieved progress between 2015 and 2019 was a 0.12 point annual improvement, while it should have been at 3.6 points.

This means that building decarbonisation is off track and much behind the path to climate neutrality by 2050. While the index should have been at 14 points in 2019, it is barely above 0, thus at almost the same level in 2019 as in 2015. Put differently, four years of potential progress towards climate neutrality by 2050 have been lost.

Read more here.

2022-06-28 | Tim Mandel, Lukas Kranzl, Eftim Popovski

This report provides quantitative evidence on the Energy Efficiency First (EE1st) principle by investigating the level of end-use energy efficiency in the building sector that would provide the greatest benefit for the European Union in transitioning to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Three scenarios are modelled and compared in terms of energy system cost to determine the extent to which society is better off – in pure monetary terms – if end-use energy efficiency in buildings was systematically prioritized over energy supply. 

The report emphasizes that at least moderate levels of energy efficiency in buildings are needed to cost-efficiently achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Even such relatively moderate levels will have to go much beyond business-as-usual trends. In addition, the study presents ample reason to support higher levels of ambition. Most notably, end-use energy efficiency in buildings reduces the capacities and associated cost of generators, networks, storage and other energy supply technologies. 

2022-06-28 | Tim Mandel, Lukas Kranzl, Samuel Thomas

The objective of this report is twofold. First, based on an expert workshop and a literature review, it aims to integrate the state of knowledge on the concepts of EE1st and MI. This concerns the theoretical interlinkages between the two concepts as well as the possible role of different decision-support frameworks (e.g. cost-benefit analysis) and evaluation perspectives.

Second, the report provides evidence on the magnitude of selected MI from a model-based assessment for the EE1st principle in the EU-27. Three scenarios are compared for the MI of air pollution and indoor comfort. We find that factoring in MI certainly affects the trade-off between demand-side and supply-side resources, making it critical to include them in model-based assessments in the scope of EE1st

2022-06-24 | Jesse Glicker, Zsolt Toth and Jonathan Volt (BPIE), Maarten De Groote and Paulina Rodriguez Fiscal (VITO)

In light of EU climate goals and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, significant measures are needed to decarbonise the economy, reduce energy use and future-proof the building stock. With 75% of Europeans living in urban areas and a rising focus on existing buildings to achieve full decarbonisation by 2050, there is significant opportunity and need to focus on innovative solutions in neighbourhoods and homes, beyond the individual building level. Successful decarbonisation of the EU building stock calls for an integrated, participatory and neighbourhood-based approach.

Read the full paper here